First to Invent – Patently-O https://patentlyo.com America's leading patent law blog Sat, 23 Jun 2018 23:09:07 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.6 McDonnell Boehnen Hulbert & Berghoff LLP https://patentlyo.com/media/2014/01/mbhb-3b.gif https://www.mbhb.com/ 480 150 Intellectual Property Law EasyWeb => Easy 101 Invalidation https://patentlyo.com/patent/2017/05/easyweb-easy-invalidation.html https://patentlyo.com/patent/2017/05/easyweb-easy-invalidation.html#comments Tue, 16 May 2017 01:13:10 +0000 https://patentlyo.com/?p=16630 EasyWeb v. Twitter (Fed. Cir. 2017) (nonprecedential opinion)

In this case, the appellate court affirmed summary judgment that all of the asserted claims of five EasyWeb patents are ineligible under the Mayo/Alice interpretation of 35 U.S.C. 101 and therefore invalid.

Representative Claim 1 of U.S. Patent No. 7,685,247 is directed to a message-publishing-system that “accepts messages in multiple ways, such as by fax, telephone, or email” then verifies the message as being sent from an authorized sender, converts the message to a web format, and publishes the message on the Internet.  Although claim 1 is directed to a computer system, it includes a functionally claimed software component:

A message publishing system (MPS) operative to process a message from a sender in a first format, comprising:

a central processor;

at least one sender account;

at least one storage area configured to store at least a first portion of the message;

and software executing in the central processor to configure the processor so as to:

  1. identify the sender of the message as an authorized sender based on information associated with the message in comparison to data in the sender account, wherein the identification is dependent upon the first format;
  2. convert at least a second portion of the message from the first format to a second format; and
  3. publish the converted second portion of the message so as to be viewable in the second format only if the sender has been identified as an authorized sender.

Continue reading EasyWeb => Easy 101 Invalidation at Patently-O.

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EasyWeb v. Twitter (Fed. Cir. 2017) (nonprecedential opinion)

In this case, the appellate court affirmed summary judgment that all of the asserted claims of five EasyWeb patents are ineligible under the Mayo/Alice interpretation of 35 U.S.C. 101 and therefore invalid.

Representative Claim 1 of U.S. Patent No. 7,685,247 is directed to a message-publishing-system that “accepts messages in multiple ways, such as by fax, telephone, or email” then verifies the message as being sent from an authorized sender, converts the message to a web format, and publishes the message on the Internet.  Although claim 1 is directed to a computer system, it includes a functionally claimed software component:

A message publishing system (MPS) operative to process a message from a sender in a first format, comprising:

a central processor;

at least one sender account;

at least one storage area configured to store at least a first portion of the message;

and software executing in the central processor to configure the processor so as to:

  1. identify the sender of the message as an authorized sender based on information associated with the message in comparison to data in the sender account, wherein the identification is dependent upon the first format;
  2. convert at least a second portion of the message from the first format to a second format; and
  3. publish the converted second portion of the message so as to be viewable in the second format only if the sender has been identified as an authorized sender.

Following the now standard two-step eligibility analysis, the court first found the claim directed toward an abstract idea.

Claim 1 merely recites the familiar concepts of receiving, authenticating, and publishing data. As we have explained in a number of cases, claims involving data collection, analysis, and publication are directed to an abstract idea.

Of import here for the abstract idea finding is that the claim simply uses generic computer technology rather than improving-upon the technology or designing particularized components.

Moving to step-two, the court looked – but could not find – an “inventive concept” beyond the claimed abstract idea sufficient to “transform the nature of the claim’ into a patent-eligible application.” (quoting Alice).

Although EasyWeb argues that an inventive concept arises from the ordered combination of steps in claim 1, we disagree. Claim 1 recites the most basic of steps in data collection, analysis, and publication and they are recited in the ordinary order. In sum, all the claims are directed to the abstract idea of receiving, authenticating, and publishing data, and fail to recite any inventive concepts sufficient to transform the abstract idea into a patent eligible invention.

Its decision is not quite correct, the Federal Circuit does not find abstract ideas simply because a claim involves “data collection, analysis, and publication.”  However, when (as here), the claim is directed toward these activities at a high level of abstraction, then the Alice/Mayo approach easily fits.

Analytically, the decision adds further weight to the theory that steps 1 and 2 are closely linked and are highly likely to correlate with one another.

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Uncertainty: Helsinn Foreshadows Trouble with AIA Patents https://patentlyo.com/patent/2017/05/uncertainty-helsinn-foreshadows.html https://patentlyo.com/patent/2017/05/uncertainty-helsinn-foreshadows.html#comments Thu, 11 May 2017 04:57:11 +0000 https://patentlyo.com/?p=16607 By Dennis Crouch

The AIA was passed back in 2011 and the changes have gradually been implemented through the patent system.  We are finally at the point where most newly issued U.S. patents are post-AIA patents whose patentability is individually based upon the first-to-file provisions of re-drafted 35 U.S.C. § 102.  We’re talking here about hundreds-of-thousands of patents interpreted under the new rules with millions on their way.  As this huge stone is slowly building momentum, the PTO has faced a startup problem: The Agency must apply the new law even though it has almost no guidance from the courts as to how the new portions of the statute will be interpreted.  Because the PTO interpretation is given no deference and because of the many drafting holes in the AIA, I expect that the PTO interpretation will be repeatedly found incorrect.

The only substantive area that has been thus-far decided by the Federal Circuit involves the recent Helsinn decision.  In that case, the Federal Circuit rejected the PTO approach to on-sale prior art and ruled that a pre-filing sale whose existence was disclosed to the public counts as 102(a)(1) prior art even if the elements of the invention were not publicly disclosed (just the fact of the sale). 

Continue reading Uncertainty: Helsinn Foreshadows Trouble with AIA Patents at Patently-O.

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By Dennis Crouch

The AIA was passed back in 2011 and the changes have gradually been implemented through the patent system.  We are finally at the point where most newly issued U.S. patents are post-AIA patents whose patentability is individually based upon the first-to-file provisions of re-drafted 35 U.S.C. § 102.  We’re talking here about hundreds-of-thousands of patents interpreted under the new rules with millions on their way.  As this huge stone is slowly building momentum, the PTO has faced a startup problem: The Agency must apply the new law even though it has almost no guidance from the courts as to how the new portions of the statute will be interpreted.  Because the PTO interpretation is given no deference and because of the many drafting holes in the AIA, I expect that the PTO interpretation will be repeatedly found incorrect.

The only substantive area that has been thus-far decided by the Federal Circuit involves the recent Helsinn decision.  In that case, the Federal Circuit rejected the PTO approach to on-sale prior art and ruled that a pre-filing sale whose existence was disclosed to the public counts as 102(a)(1) prior art even if the elements of the invention were not publicly disclosed (just the fact of the sale).  In its incorrect interpretation of the statute, the PTO had judged the statute as only counting sales as public if the elements of the invention were also disclosed publicly.[1]

There are many other potential examples of questionable language from the AIA first-to-invent provisions that will eventually come to a head:

  • Effective Filing Date: In a patent claiming priority to a prior application, does the claim’s ‘effective filing date’ depend upon whether the relied-upon filing discloses and enables the claimed invention? Section 100(i) suggests that we look only to whether there is a claimed right for priority or benefit. This could impact many written description cases.
  • On Sale: Does a purely private sale or offer to sell count as prior art? Helsinn reserves this question for a later date.
  • Public Use: Does non-disclosing public use count as prior art? Helsinn suggests yes.
  • Commercialization: Does non-disclosing commercialization of the invention by the patentee count as prior art?
  • Otherwise available to the public: Under what conditions apart from the listed publications and uses will we consider an invention to be “otherwise available to the public?” How much further does this go beyond publication and public use? Is public knowledge of the existence of the invention sufficient, or must the public be made aware of the inventions elements and how to make and use the invention? Does the invention need to be discoverable in some way?
  • Grace Period: What level of proof is required for the patentee to show its prior disclosure?
  • Disclosure: For an inventor’s disclosure to trigger the grace period, must it enable the entire invention?
  • Public Disclosure: What counts as a pre-filing ‘public disclosure’ under 102(b)(1)(B) sufficient to knock-out prior art? Is the publicness the same as 102(a)(1)?
  • Changed Disclosure: For intervening third-party disclosures or patent applications that differ from an inventor’s disclosure, what scope (if any) is knocked-out from the scope of prior art? This may be different depending upon whether focusing on 102(b)(1)(a); 102(b)(1)(b); 102(b)(1)(c); or 102(b)(1)(d).
  • Date of 102(a)(2) prior art: 102(d) modifies the 102(a)(2) prior art date for published applications and patents by looking to whether the application claims priority / benefit to a prior filing. Congress certainly intended that the priority date only counts if the priority filing disclosed the subject matter being relied upon in the rejection.  However, the statute is not so clear and suggests instead that all we need is a proper claim of priority or benefit. .

These are a handful of examples, and more certainly exist.

I have some thoughts on how provisions of the statute should be interpreted – both as a matter of statutory interpretation and a matter of patent policy.  My larger concern, however, is that we are still years away from seeing court decisions interpreting these elements in ways that settle the law.  Up to now, for instance, there are not even any public PTAB decisions interpreting the new elements of 102(b).  With the disposing of more than 500,000 patent applications per year, the office is likely to churn through millions before these issues go before the Federal Circuit.  If the first case on point (Helsinn) is any indication, the Federal Circuit is likely to disagree with at least several of the PTO’s statutory interpretations – potentially creating swaths of improperly issued patents or improperly rejected applications depending upon whether the PTO interpretation is too broad or too narrow.  Although temporary, we have the potential here of creating a real bubble that will give us another 20+ year headache in similar fashion to the PTO’s low-quality examination of software and business methods in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

= = = = =

[1] MPEP 2152.02(d) (“The phrase ‘on sale’ in AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(a)(1)  is treated as having the same meaning as ‘on sale’ in pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(b), except that the sale must make the invention available to the public.”).

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CBM Review: Must the Claims Be Expressly Limited to Financial Services? https://patentlyo.com/patent/2017/04/expressly-financial-services.html https://patentlyo.com/patent/2017/04/expressly-financial-services.html#comments Wed, 26 Apr 2017 07:26:00 +0000 https://patentlyo.com/?p=16498 Secure Axcess v. PNC (Fed. Cir. 2017) (en banc petition)

In an important February 2017 decision, the Federal Circuit limited the scope of Covered Business Method Review (CBM) — requiring that the claimed invention be focused on financial transactions.  In my original review, I wrote:

This case represents an important decision limiting the scope of Covered Business Method reviews.  However, its short consideration of agency-deference leaves it open to further challenge. 

Crouch, For CBM Review: _Claims_ Must be Directed to Financial Service, Patently-O (Feb. 2017).  The case focuses on U.S. Patent No. 7,631,191.

U.S. Bank has now challenged the decision with an en banc request – raising the following question:

Whether a method patent whose claims are worded to avoid reference to financial activity, but whose specification makes plain that it is a patent “used in the practice, administration, or management of a financial product or service,” qualifies for post-grant review as a covered business method (CBM) patent under Section 18 of the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act (AIA), Pub. L. No. 112-29, § 18, 125 Stat. 284, 329-31 (2011).

Continue reading CBM Review: Must the Claims Be Expressly Limited to Financial Services? at Patently-O.

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Secure Axcess v. PNC (Fed. Cir. 2017) (en banc petition)

In an important February 2017 decision, the Federal Circuit limited the scope of Covered Business Method Review (CBM) — requiring that the claimed invention be focused on financial transactions.  In my original review, I wrote:

This case represents an important decision limiting the scope of Covered Business Method reviews.  However, its short consideration of agency-deference leaves it open to further challenge. 

Crouch, For CBM Review: _Claims_ Must be Directed to Financial Service, Patently-O (Feb. 2017).  The case focuses on U.S. Patent No. 7,631,191.

U.S. Bank has now challenged the decision with an en banc request – raising the following question:

Whether a method patent whose claims are worded to avoid reference to financial activity, but whose specification makes plain that it is a patent “used in the practice, administration, or management of a financial product or service,” qualifies for post-grant review as a covered business method (CBM) patent under Section 18 of the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act (AIA), Pub. L. No. 112-29, § 18, 125 Stat. 284, 329-31 (2011).

The petition directly challenges the Federal Circuit’s anti-CBM Jurisprudence, writing:

This is not the first questionable decision by a panel of this Court concerning to scope of the CBM program. In Versata Dev. Grp. v. SAP Amer., Inc., 793 F.3d 1306 (Fed. Cir. 2015), another divided panel disagreed over whether this Court even has jurisdiction to review the Board’s CBM determinations. And a petition for rehearing en banc, with robust amici support, is currently pending in Unwired Planet, LLC v. Google Inc., 841 F.3d 1376 (Fed. Cir. 2016), which asks this Court to address the level of deference owed to Board determinations that a patent qualifies for CBM status and to reconsider the holding in Versata.

Two additional amicus briefs have also been filed supporting the petition.  EFF argues (1) that the panel decision contorts the statutory text; and (2) ignored the consideration of deference to an agency’s interpretation of its governing statute.  Clearing House Payments Company and Financial Services Roundtable joined together and argue (1) CBM institution rates are alredy down; and (2) the case allows artful claim drafting to effectively avoid CBM.  (The artful drafting issue is largely moot since CBM will sunset in September 2020).

The key here is interpretation of Section 18(d)(1) of the America Invents Act that limits the scope of Covered Business Method Reviews to patents “that claim[] a method or corresponding apparatus for performing data processing or other operations used in the practice, administration, or management of a financial product or service.” Does the statute require that the claim include the financial product or service use?  Note here that the argument is not based upon a statute codified in the United States Code since it is only a temporary provision that will sunset after three more years.

Docs:

 

 

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“Exemplary Embodiments” as Boiler Plate https://patentlyo.com/patent/2017/04/exemplary-embodiments-boiler.html https://patentlyo.com/patent/2017/04/exemplary-embodiments-boiler.html#comments Mon, 24 Apr 2017 15:41:47 +0000 https://patentlyo.com/?p=16491 “Exemplary Embodiments” as Boiler Plate

Skedco v. Strategic Operations (StOps) (Fed. Cir. 2017)

The district court sided with the accused-infringer StOps – finding (on summary judgment) no-infringement of Skedco’s exclusively licensed U.S. Patent No. 8,342,852 covering a “trauma training system.”

The system is designed to replicate trauma, and includes a pump in fluid connection with a valve that is in connection with a wound site “to simulate a hemorrhage.”

18. A trauma training system … comprising: a collapsible reservoir …, a pump in fluid communication with … said reservoir, at least one valve in fluid communication with said pump, a controller connected to said pump and said at least one valve, and at least one wound site detachably in fluid communication with said valve, wherein fluid is provided to said wound site to simulate a hemorrhage.

The problem for the patentee is that, while the claim appears to separately claim the pump and the valve, the accused device physically links them together – “these valves reside within the pump housing.”  In addition, although the claim requires a controller connected to both the pump and the valve, the accused device’s controller is only connected to the pump.

Continue reading “Exemplary Embodiments” as Boiler Plate at Patently-O.

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“Exemplary Embodiments” as Boiler Plate

US08342852-20130101-D00009Skedco v. Strategic Operations (StOps) (Fed. Cir. 2017)

The district court sided with the accused-infringer StOps – finding (on summary judgment) no-infringement of Skedco’s exclusively licensed U.S. Patent No. 8,342,852 covering a “trauma training system.”

The system is designed to replicate trauma, and includes a pump in fluid connection with a valve that is in connection with a wound site “to simulate a hemorrhage.”

18. A trauma training system … comprising: a collapsible reservoir …, a pump in fluid communication with … said reservoir, at least one valve in fluid communication with said pump, a controller connected to said pump and said at least one valve, and at least one wound site detachably in fluid communication with said valve, wherein fluid is provided to said wound site to simulate a hemorrhage.

The problem for the patentee is that, while the claim appears to separately claim the pump and the valve, the accused device physically links them together – “these valves reside within the pump housing.”  In addition, although the claim requires a controller connected to both the pump and the valve, the accused device’s controller is only connected to the pump.

On appeal, the Federal Circuit has vacated the judgment – finding that the district court erred in its claim construction.

First, although the patent requires a pump in fluid connection with a valve, the federal circuit found that “nothing in the claims requires the pump and valve to be physically separated.”

We see no reason why a device that moves fluid cannot contain another device that regulates flow within it. A pump does not cease moving fluid—i.e., being a “pump”—just because an internal valve adjusts fluid flow. … In short, we agree with the district court that a “pump” is not a “valve,” id. at 1108, but nothing in the claims or specification prohibits a valve from residing within a pump.

Of course, none of the embodiments teach a pump with internal valve.  Responding to that argument, the court appeared to look back primarily to pre-Phillips cases:

“[I]t is the claims, not the written description, which define the scope of the patent right.” Laitram Corp v. NEC Corp., 163 F.3d 1342 (Fed. Cir. 1998). Patents do not need to include drawings of particular embodiments in order to claim them. See CCS Fitness, Inc. v. Brunswick Corp., 288 F.3d 1359 (Fed. Cir. 2002). For this reason, a claim is not limited to inventions looking like those in the drawings. MBO Labs., Inc. v. Becton, Dickinson & Co., 474 F.3d 1323, 1333 (Fed. Cir. 2007). This guidance is especially apt here because the patent refers to the drawings to which StOps points as “exemplary embodiment[s].”

Looking at the second non-infringement justification, the district court had construed the claim to require a controller be actually connected to both a pump and a valve – based upon the requirement of “a controller connected to said pump and said at least one valve.” ON appeal, the Federal Circuit found it was improper to require an actual physical connection between the controller and the the valve:

[W]e think that the correct construction of “a controller connected to said pump and said at least one valve” is “an activation mechanism configured to control a pump and a valve to which it is directly or indirectly joined, united, or linked.”  . . . It [] incorporates the specification’s envisaged indirect connections. . . .

As far as the district court’s “physical” limitation is concerned, we see no reason to import such a requirement into claim 18. The claimed “controller” is merely “an activation mechanism,” and nothing limits this activation to physical channels. Indeed, the ’852 patent includes several embodiments where a remote controller 160 activates a valve. This activation must occur at least in part through a nonphysical connection. See id., figs.3, 9A, 9C. We therefore hold that it was error to limit the claimed connection to physical connections.

Thus, reasoned the district court, the BPS does not have “direct,” “independent,” and “physical” connections between the controller and the valve such that the valve is “controlled by the controller.” Id. at 1105–06, 1108. The court also ruled as a matter of law that claims 18, 19, and 20 were not infringed under the doctrine of equivalents. Having granted summary judgment of noninfringement, the court dismissed Skedco’s complaint. This appeal followed. We have jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1295(a)(1). controller.” Id. at 1105–06, 1108. We hold that it was error for the district court to have included some of these additional limitations into claim 18.

On remand, the district court will be asked to consider infringement under this now broader construction.

 

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An Economic Argument Against Mandatory Patent Exhaustion https://patentlyo.com/patent/2017/03/economic-mandatory-exhaustion.html https://patentlyo.com/patent/2017/03/economic-mandatory-exhaustion.html#comments Mon, 20 Mar 2017 00:26:27 +0000 https://patentlyo.com/?p=16199 Guest Post By Prof. Jonathan Barnett, University of Southern California School of Law & Prof. Ted Sichelman, University of San Diego School of Law

As Patently-O has described in several posts (here, here, here), the Supreme Court is poised to decide the fate of the patent exhaustion doctrine in Impression Products v. Lexmark International. Specifically, the Court is likely to answer two important sets of questions: (1) To what extent does exhaustion limit the enforcement of contractual sale and use restrictions on downstream purchasers?; and (2) Does exhaustion apply to foreign sales? If so, how?

Oddly, although exhaustion has major ramifications for IP markets, there have been almost no formal models of the doctrine’s economic effects in the domestic context, and few models in the international context. A recent paper by one of us (Sichelman), together with two economists, Edwin Lai and Olena Ivus, provides a rigorous economic model to determine the effects of (1) a mandatory exhaustion regime, in which the patent owner essentially can never enforce downstream limitations, and (2) a presumptive exhaustion regime, in which the patent owner and a licensee/purchaser can opt out of exhaustion via contract.

Continue reading An Economic Argument Against Mandatory Patent Exhaustion at Patently-O.

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Guest Post By Prof. Jonathan Barnett, University of Southern California School of Law & Prof. Ted Sichelman, University of San Diego School of Law

As Patently-O has described in several posts (here, here, here), the Supreme Court is poised to decide the fate of the patent exhaustion doctrine in Impression Products v. Lexmark International. Specifically, the Court is likely to answer two important sets of questions: (1) To what extent does exhaustion limit the enforcement of contractual sale and use restrictions on downstream purchasers?; and (2) Does exhaustion apply to foreign sales? If so, how?

Oddly, although exhaustion has major ramifications for IP markets, there have been almost no formal models of the doctrine’s economic effects in the domestic context, and few models in the international context. A recent paper by one of us (Sichelman), together with two economists, Edwin Lai and Olena Ivus, provides a rigorous economic model to determine the effects of (1) a mandatory exhaustion regime, in which the patent owner essentially can never enforce downstream limitations, and (2) a presumptive exhaustion regime, in which the patent owner and a licensee/purchaser can opt out of exhaustion via contract.

Drawing from this paper and other economically oriented analysis, we recently co-authored an amicus brief in Impression Products, which argues in favor of a presumptive understanding of the exhaustion doctrine.  (Interestingly, although academics are usually pegged as strongly in favor of mandatory exhaustion, our brief garnered 44 signatures—significantly more than the brief filed by professors arguing in favor of mandatory exhaustion.)

The major points of the brief and paper are straightforward.

  • The “Paid Twice” Argument is Meritless: Proponents of mandatory exhaustion sometimes argue that it is improper for a patent owner to be “paid twice”—for instance, once upon the initial sale of a patented good and another time upon resale. Although this may sound plausible intuitively, it does not hold up to economic analysis. A patent owner wants to maximize profits, not prices. Multiplying royalties through a chain of purchasers will tend to increase price and therefore depress consumer demand. Thus, there are strong market constraints that restrict the royalty amount a patent owner can charge. There is no sound economic reason why in every case a patent owner should not be able to break up the profit-maximizing aggregate royalty into multiple components payable at different points on the supply chain. Indeed, economic modeling shows that these “double” payments, implemented through use-specific downstream limitations, may sometimes be essential to optimizing incentives to invent and commercialize new technologies.
  • The “Restraints on Alienation” Concern is Ambiguous: The view that is generally espoused is that restraints on personal property are generally not enforced. However, much doubt has been cast on this view. Moreover, in the real property context, reasonable restraints on sale and use have been enforced for hundreds of years. This makes economic sense, especially in the patent context, because a rigorous economic treatment shows that the “restraint on alienation” concern boils down to transaction costs, including negotiation and information costs in downstream licenses and sales. The paper’s model shows that when transaction costs are high relative to the value of the underlying good—think medical device patent owner negotiating with a patient prior to a surgery—then mandatory exhaustion may yield net static benefits by eliminating the possibility of these transaction costs. However, when transaction costs are low—think a patent owner negotiating with a large computer manufacturer—then mandatory exhaustion may prevent customized deals that are economically efficient. Given the extent to which information technology and other industries rely on complex supply chains involving market participants with different needs, mandatory exhaustion may impose significant costs not justified by the benefits.
  • Exhaustion’s Effect on Consumers is Ambiguous: Many proponents of mandatory exhaustion argue that it benefits consumers. However, mandatory exhaustion tends to preclude what economists term “price discrimination”—namely, the ability to charge different prices (and associated terms of use) that reflect consumers’ different product valuations and budget constraints. By forcing patent owners to recoup all their profits from the first purchaser, the patent owner will tend to raise the initial price for the product. This increase, in turn, forecloses consumers who cannot afford the higher price. So while mandatory exhaustion does leave more money in the pockets of the consumers who can afford the product, it often forecloses another class of consumers entirely from buying the product. While some might argue that mandatory exhaustion allows for arbitrage resulting in broader access, any such gains are likely to be short-lived since the patent owner will typically respond by adopting a uniform pricing scheme, often resulting in less access for lower-valuation and lower-income consumers plus weaker incentives for the patent owner to invent and commercialize in the future. In general, the net access and incentive effects of these various factors will differ in any particular market. However, the short story is that there is no sound basis for the popular view that mandatory exhaustion necessarily promotes the interests of consumers—in many cases, just the opposite will be true.

The brief and paper also consider other important aspects of the exhaustion doctrine, such as multi-component products, information asymmetries, switching costs, design-arounds, and the like. Even taking all of these wrinkles into account, the upshot is similar to that above—whether exhaustion is beneficial depends on the particular circumstances at-issue. The same arguments hold in the context of foreign sales.

Based on these considerations, the amicus brief argues that presumptive exhaustion is the best approach for balancing the benefits and costs of downstream limitations in technology markets.  This approach allows a patent owner to opt out of a default exhaustion rule so long as clear notice is provided and the restrictions are otherwise legal (e.g., do not violate the antitrust laws or other public policy concerns). A mandatory, “per se” rule on the other hand assumes all downstream limitations are pernicious, when the economics show otherwise. In this regard, courts are in a suitable position to sort out reasonable from unreasonable downstream limitations, something that courts have done in the past when applying the exhaustion doctrine and, in the related antitrust law of vertical restraints, have done for 40 years since the Supreme Court’s landmark Sylvania decision.

We also argue that it is essential to allow downstream limitations to be enforced via a patent infringement suit rather than a state contract claim—otherwise, it would be too costly to bind remote downstream purchasers, injunctive relief would generally not be available, and a uniform body of federal law would not develop.

In sum, when the economics of exhaustion is carefully considered, the most sensible rule that emerges is a presumptive one that allows for reasonable limitations when clear notice is provided to downstream purchasers.

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Eligibility: Get Technical or Get Denied https://patentlyo.com/patent/2017/03/eligibility-technical-denied.html https://patentlyo.com/patent/2017/03/eligibility-technical-denied.html#comments Wed, 15 Mar 2017 14:48:46 +0000 https://patentlyo.com/?p=16182 Dennis Crouch

The principle that patent prosecutors are following today is in the headline: Get Technical or Get Denied.  The following is a case-in-point.

Nonprecedential decision today in Clarilogic v. FormFree Holdings affirming that the claims of FormFree’s U.S. Patent No. 8,762,243 are ineligible under 35 U.S.C. § 101 as directed to an abstract idea.   [Decision: clarilogic] The patent is directed toward a credit reporting scheme.  The gist – according to the court:

In brief, the … system seeks a potential borrower’s financial information from a third party, applies an “algorithm engine” to the data, and outputs a report. . . . the logic rules applied by the engine are received “from government entities or particular users.”

Claim 1 is drafted as a seven step method as follows :

1. A computer-implemented method for providing certified financial data indicating financial risk about an individual, comprising:

(a) receiving a request for the certified financial data;
(b) electronically collecting financial account data about the individual from at least one financial source,
(c) transforming the financial account data into a desired format;
(d) validating the financial account data by applying an algorithm engine to the financial account data to identify exceptions, wherein the exceptions indicate incorrect data or financial risk;
(e) confirming the exceptions by collecting additional data and applying the algorithm engine to the additional data,
(f) marking the exceptions as valid exceptions when output of the algorithm engine validates the exceptions; and
(g) generating, using a computer, a report from the financial account data and the valid exceptions,
wherein the financial account data comprises at least one of real-time transaction data, real time balance data, historical transaction data, or historical balance data; and the algorithm engine identifies a pattern of financial risk; the method is computer implemented, and steps (c), (e), and (f) are executed via the computer or a series of computers.

Continue reading Eligibility: Get Technical or Get Denied at Patently-O.

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Dennis Crouch

The principle that patent prosecutors are following today is in the headline: Get Technical or Get Denied.  The following is a case-in-point.

Nonprecedential decision today in Clarilogic v. FormFree Holdings affirming that the claims of FormFree’s U.S. Patent No. 8,762,243 are ineligible under 35 U.S.C. § 101 as directed to an abstract idea.   [Decision: clarilogic] The patent is directed toward a credit reporting scheme.  The gist – according to the court:

In brief, the … system seeks a potential borrower’s financial information from a third party, applies an “algorithm engine” to the data, and outputs a report. . . . the logic rules applied by the engine are received “from government entities or particular users.”

Claim 1 is drafted as a seven step method as follows :

1. A computer-implemented method for providing certified financial data indicating financial risk about an individual, comprising:

(a) receiving a request for the certified financial data;
(b) electronically collecting financial account data about the individual from at least one financial source,
(c) transforming the financial account data into a desired format;
(d) validating the financial account data by applying an algorithm engine to the financial account data to identify exceptions, wherein the exceptions indicate incorrect data or financial risk;
(e) confirming the exceptions by collecting additional data and applying the algorithm engine to the additional data,
(f) marking the exceptions as valid exceptions when output of the algorithm engine validates the exceptions; and
(g) generating, using a computer, a report from the financial account data and the valid exceptions,
wherein the financial account data comprises at least one of real-time transaction data, real time balance data, historical transaction data, or historical balance data; and the algorithm engine identifies a pattern of financial risk; the method is computer implemented, and steps (c), (e), and (f) are executed via the computer or a series of computers.

The Supreme Court’s atextual reading of 35 U.S.C. 101 has created a set of subject matter excluded from patentability – including abstract ideas.  The two step eligibility framework under Alice/Mayo first asks whether the claims are “directed to” an abstract idea and then, if so, asks whether the claims include “something more” beyond the abstract idea such as an “inventive concept” that is “sufficient to transform the nature of the claim into a patent eligible application.”  Quoting Alice.  These issues have generally been treated as questions of law amenable to judgment by a court even at the pleading stage of a lawsuit.

Step 1: The claims are directed to an abstract idea because their focus is “on collecting information, analyzing it, and displaying certain results of the collection and analysis.” (quoting Elec. Power Grp., LLC v. Alstom S.A., 830 F.3d 1350 (Fed. Cir. 2016).   Here, the court suggests the claims might have passed the test if the “algorithm engine” had been further identified or explained, but simply “claiming an algorithm does not alone render subject matter patent eligible.”

Step 2: The requisite ‘something more,’ does not include recitation of the use of a generic computer.  Here, FreeForm argues that its invention uses algorithms to transform data in parallel fashion to the way that Diehr used an algorithm to transform rubber.  On appeal, however, the Federal Circuit disagreed:

In contrast to Diehr, claim 1 recites a method that changes the way electronic information is displayed via an unknown and unclaimed process. Absent any limitation to how the data are changed, there is little, if any, transformative effect. Data are still data.

The problem, according to the court, is that the patent simply does not reach any inventive “technical manner” in which the “data is gathered, analyzed, or output.”

 

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Federal Circuit to PTO: EXPLAIN WITH PARTICULARITY AND EVIDENCE https://patentlyo.com/patent/2017/02/federal-particularity-evidence.html https://patentlyo.com/patent/2017/02/federal-particularity-evidence.html#comments Wed, 15 Feb 2017 19:44:55 +0000 http://patentlyo.com/?p=15877 PersonalWeb Tech v. Apple (Fed. Cir. 2017) [personalweb]

Following an administrative trial, the PTAB found the challenged claims of PersonalWeb’s Patent No. 7,802,310 obvious based upon a combination of two prior art references.  On appeal, however, the Federal Circuit has vacated the judgment – holding that the Board’s factual findings  were not supported by substantial evidence. In particular, the Federal Circuit could not find substantial evidence for the conclusions (1) that the prior art taught each element of the challenged claims or (2) that PHOSITA would have been motivated to combine the references to form the invention as claimed.

Substantial Evidence: For me, the substantial evidence rule is a misnomer because it suggests that a decision is based upon a substantial amount of evidence (and thus seems like a reasonable approach).  I would rename it as the “scintilla rule” because, under the rule, factual conclusions made by the PTAB are affirmed on appeal so long as supported by “more than a mere scintilla” of evidence.  I previously wrote:

[T]o be clear, the appellate court will affirm a factual determination even when that determination is likely wrong so long as some amount of evidence supports the determination.

Continue reading Federal Circuit to PTO: EXPLAIN WITH PARTICULARITY AND EVIDENCE at Patently-O.

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PersonalWeb Tech v. Apple (Fed. Cir. 2017) [personalweb]

Following an administrative trial, the PTAB found the challenged claims of PersonalWeb’s Patent No. 7,802,310 obvious based upon a combination of two prior art references.  On appeal, however, the Federal Circuit has vacated the judgment – holding that the Board’s factual findings  were not supported by substantial evidence. In particular, the Federal Circuit could not find substantial evidence for the conclusions (1) that the prior art taught each element of the challenged claims or (2) that PHOSITA would have been motivated to combine the references to form the invention as claimed.

Substantial Evidence: For me, the substantial evidence rule is a misnomer because it suggests that a decision is based upon a substantial amount of evidence (and thus seems like a reasonable approach).  I would rename it as the “scintilla rule” because, under the rule, factual conclusions made by the PTAB are affirmed on appeal so long as supported by “more than a mere scintilla” of evidence.  I previously wrote:

[T]o be clear, the appellate court will affirm a factual determination even when that determination is likely wrong so long as some amount of evidence supports the determination. We have all heard the adage that ‘reasonable minds can differ.’ I think of the substantial evidence rule as a relaxed version that ‘somewhat reasonable minds can differ.‘ Or, in other words, the PTO’s factual determinations will be affirmed if somewhat reasonable.

Although the PTAB burden is not great, the Board must fully explain its conclusions and their bases.  (This is a major difference when compared with the ‘black box’ of a jury trial).  As part of its explanation, the Board must also specifically contend with evidence that “detracts from an agency’s decision.”  The court explained in its 2002 Lee decision:

For judicial review to be meaningfully achieved within these strictures, the agency tribunal must present a full and reasoned explanation of its decision. The agency tribunal must set forth its findings and the grounds thereof, as supported by the agency record, and explain its application of the law to the found facts.

In re Lee, 277 F.3d 1338, 1343 (Fed. Cir. 2002).  That is, the Board, “must articulate ‘logical and rational’ reasons for its decision.” (quoting Synopsys).

Here, the court explained that the rational in an obviousness case includes

  1. Particularly identifying where each element of each claim is taught by the prior art references.  Here, the Board failed to explain the particular location within Woodhill that taught the claim limitation of comparing a name with a “plurality of values.” (yes, that’s right.)
  2. Explaining the motivation to combine.

Explaining motivation to combine is a big deal because it comes up in almost every patent case before the PTO. Here, the Board simply wrote that:

“a person of ordinary skill in the art reading Woodhill and Stefik would have understood that the combination of Woodhill and Stefik would have allowed for the selective access features of Stefik to be used with Woodhill’s content-dependent identifiers feature.”

On appeal, the Court found that justification inadequate.

Indeed, the Board nowhere clearly explained, or cited evidence showing, how the combination of the two references was supposed to work. At least in this case, such a clear, evidence-supported account of the contemplated workings of the combination is a prerequisite to
adequately explaining and supporting a conclusion that a relevant skilled artisan would have been motivated to make the combination and reasonably expect success in doing so. . . .

A brief explanation may do all that is needed if, for example, the technology is simple and familiar and the prior art is clear in its language and easily understood. See Ariosa, 805 F.3d at 1365–66. On the other hand, complexity or obscurity of the technology or prior-art descriptions may well make more detailed explanations necessary. Here, the Board’s explanation is wanting. Apple’s attempts in this court to explicate both the Board’s explanation and the underlying evidence do not persuade us otherwise.

On remand, the Board will give it another go – and we’ll see whether the exercise of actually explaining its reasoning causes the Board to change its mind as well.

= = = = =

My explanation of the case skipped over details of the patent at issue.  Claim 1 is shown below and basically includes three steps: (a) sending a “content based name” for a data-item from one computer to another; (b) check to see if the name is on a list; and (c) grant or deny access to the data-item depending upon the result of (b).

1. A computer-implemented method … comprising the steps:

(a) at a first computer, obtaining a content-based name for a particular data item from a second computer …, the content-based name being based at least in part on a function of at least some of the data which comprise the contents of the particular data item, wherein the function comprises a message digest function or a hash function, and wherein two identical data items will have the same content-based name; and

(b) … a processor at said first computer ascertaining whether or not the content-based name for the particular data item corresponds to an entry in a database comprising a plurality of identifiers; and

(c) based at least in part on said ascertaining in (b), determining whether or not access to the particular data item is authorized.

The patentee claims that Apple’s iTunes and iCloud services infringe.

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Can Your Patent Block Repair and Resale and Prevent Arbitrage? https://patentlyo.com/patent/2017/01/resale-prevent-arbitrage.html https://patentlyo.com/patent/2017/01/resale-prevent-arbitrage.html#comments Tue, 31 Jan 2017 16:41:30 +0000 http://patentlyo.com/?p=15661 Can Your Patent Block Repair and Resale and Prevent Arbitrage?

by Dennis Crouch

The first rounds of merits briefs have now been submitted to the Supreme Court in Impression Prods. v. Lexmark. The case questions the extent a patentee can control the entire resale and repair market for its products.  For products originally sold in the US, the Federal Circuit held that express use/resale limits at the point of first-sale are effective – even against subsequent bona fide purchasers. For products sold overseas, the Federal Circuit held that US Courts should presume no exhaustion of the US patent – this would automatically prohibit 3rd party importation into the US.

As a property law professor, I tend to think about about the mass confusion among the students as they try to work through the law associated with real covenants and equitable servitudes on land.  It creates substantial confusion among lawyers. But what we want is a system where property rights can be fairly and openly traded without even having lawyers extensively involved with each of our purchases.  With personal property courts long ago rejected servitudes (such as use and resale restrictions) that bind subsequent purchasers. Unlike real property, personal property moves and is often transferred without substantial paperwork or record-keeping, and allowing a set of unique restrictions has the potential of gumming up the marketplace.  

Continue reading Can Your Patent Block Repair and Resale and Prevent Arbitrage? at Patently-O.

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Can Your Patent Block Repair and Resale and Prevent Arbitrage?

resaleby Dennis Crouch

The first rounds of merits briefs have now been submitted to the Supreme Court in Impression Prods. v. Lexmark. The case questions the extent a patentee can control the entire resale and repair market for its products.  For products originally sold in the US, the Federal Circuit held that express use/resale limits at the point of first-sale are effective – even against subsequent bona fide purchasers. For products sold overseas, the Federal Circuit held that US Courts should presume no exhaustion of the US patent – this would automatically prohibit 3rd party importation into the US.

As a property law professor, I tend to think about about the mass confusion among the students as they try to work through the law associated with real covenants and equitable servitudes on land.  It creates substantial confusion among lawyers. But what we want is a system where property rights can be fairly and openly traded without even having lawyers extensively involved with each of our purchases.  With personal property courts long ago rejected servitudes (such as use and resale restrictions) that bind subsequent purchasers. Unlike real property, personal property moves and is often transferred without substantial paperwork or record-keeping, and allowing a set of unique restrictions has the potential of gumming up the marketplace.  The Federal Circuit in this case went all the way to the other side — holding that the presumption in foreign sales is that no US patent rights are exhausted.  I purchased my last couple of smart phones through the used market – and have also repaired them several times.  Under the law, I probably should have taken steps to ensure that all of the original equipment manufacturers affirmatively granted repair and resale rights.  Coming together, the Federal Circuit’s approach here has the potential to limit the market for the repair and reselling of goods.  I would suggest that those activities are incredibly beneficial to our society in terms of resource allocation and avoiding waste as well as empowering citizens and avoiding anticompetitive market behavior.  Although these policy goals are relevant to the Supreme Court decision-making, the Court’s primary analysis pathway should be doctrinal.

In these cases, the most important brief is often the amicus filing by the U.S. Government. Here, the brief USG brief was filed on January 24 by President Trump’s newly appointed acting solicitor general (Noel Francisco) who (like Obama’s SG) has taken the position of supporting the challenger (Impression) against the patentee (Lexmark) and the Federal Circuit.  Time will tell whether this stance is more generally predictive of the new administration’s stance on patent rights and patent enforcement. [15-1189_amicus_reversal_united_states]

The Government frames the questions presented as follows:

  1. Whether a U.S. patent owner may invoke patent law to enforce restrictions on the use or resale of a patented article after the first authorized sale of the article in the United States.
  2. Whether and under what circumstances a U.S. patent owner may authorize the sale of a patented article in a foreign country, either under a foreign patent or otherwise in accordance with foreign law, while reserving its exclusive rights under U.S. patent law.

Answering these questions, the Government argues simply that “restrictions on post-sale use or resale are not enforceable under U.S. patent law” and that the Federal Circuit’s approach is wrong.  This is the same rule that applies generally to attempts to place a restrictive covenant on personal property.  As a minor caveat, the Government takes the position that, under limited circumstances, a foreign sale might not exhaust the associated U.S. patent rights.

The basic justification for this approach is to ensure that we have a working commercial market. The brief quotes the 1895 Keeler decision: “The inconvenience and annoyance to the public” if patent rights are not exausted by the first authorized sale [is] “too obvious to require illustration.”

Since A.B. Dick was overruled in 1917, this Court has rejected every attempt to invoke patent law to control the use or resale of an article after the first authorized sale in the United States.

At the international level, the Government suggests that the court allow express reservation of rights for foreign sales – this would thus allow a German company to sell its products in Germany (with an express export restriction) and then use its U.S. to patent to prevent those products from being sent to the U.S.  This gives the manufacturer more control over the market and would allow for price discrimination (i.e., charging higher prices in the U.S.).

In its merits brief, petitioner Impression Prods. takes a harder stand on international exhaustion — arguing that the court should follow its own prior precedent in the copyright case of Kirtsaeng and hold that any authorized sale by the patentee exhausts all U.S. patent rights – even if the authorized sale is abroad.  [15-1189-merits-petitioner]   Professor Feldman agrees in her brief, naming the Federal Circuit’s actions as “reversal from below” [15-1189_amicus_pet_professor_robin_feldman] as did the Huawei brief (although in different words) [15-1189_amicus_pet_huawei_technologies].

A common argument for exhaustion is that it allows for a robust resale market that greatly benefits consumers and helps price discrimination by allowing third party arbitrage.  Although U.S. prices are low for some goods, they are very high for others (such as pharmaceuticals and printer ink).  International exhaustion would help to solve that problem (although there are many regualtory hurdles associated with importing .  In its brief, the AARP join with EFF and Public Knowledge (and others) to argue this point: “Manufacturers currently exploit weak exhaustion rules to harm consumers. . . . Limitations on resale and repair rights lead to monopolization rather than competition.” [15-1189_amicus_pet_public_knowledge]

Costco is a business that is actively engaged in the sort of price lowering arbitrage discussed by AARP and argues that the Federal Circuit’s exhaustion rules “impose enormous costs for manufacturers, retailers, and consumers.”  They effectively ask – will the american retailers need to inspect patent licenses for all of the components and sub-components found in the products they sell? [15-1189_amicus_pet_costco_wholesale_corporation]  Similarly, an interesting trade group – the Association of Service and Computer Dealers International filed its brief and explained how the no-exhaustion rules impact the market for hard drives, DVDs, Flash Memory, and other consumer product. [15-1189_amicus_pet_ascdi] The UCC (Article 2) provides some protections here, but does not, for instance, provide authority to repair.

FSU Professor Frederick Abbott has an interesting take. Abbott is an expert on international trade law.  He writes:

A fundamental flaw in the approach of the Federal Circuit involves its reasoning that a rule of territoriality of patent rights precludes U.S. courts from taking into account activities of U.S. patent owners outside of the United States. The international agreements governing the international patent system do not prescribe such a rule of territoriality. . . The rule of independence of patents prescribed by the Paris Convention[] provides that acts taken by patent authorities in one country do not affect patent rights in other Paris countries.  recognition by this Supreme Court that first sales in foreign countries exhaust U.S. patent rights would not affect patents granted outside the United States.

[15-1189_amicus_pet_abbott]

Finally, Stanford’s IP Clinic filed a law professor’s brief signed by Mark Lemley, Dan Burk, Sam Ernst, Shubha Ghosh, Orly Lobel, Pamela Samuelson, Jessica Silbey, and others that explains:

A clear exhaustion rule promotes the alienability of patented articles and reduces transaction costs. Unlike clear, reliable property rights, idiosyncratic arrangements of rights that depend on what covenants or conditions an upstream seller has attached to a chattel impose high information costs on purchasers. . . . Exhaustion doctrine also prevents patentees from extracting a patent royalty at multiple stages in a product’s distribution chain, which would compensate them in excess of the societal benefit their inventions have provided.

[15-1189-intellectualpropertyprofessors]

It will be interesting to see how the ‘other side’ responds here .

 

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Exhaustion under Judge Rich https://patentlyo.com/patent/2017/01/exhaustion-under-judge.html https://patentlyo.com/patent/2017/01/exhaustion-under-judge.html#comments Tue, 24 Jan 2017 19:41:35 +0000 http://patentlyo.com/?p=15568 Reading Prof. John Witherspoon’s recent remarks about Judge Giles S. Rich led me to a 1999 interview of Judge Rich by Prof. Janice Mueller titled An Interview with Judge Giles S. Rich, 9 FED. CIR. B.J. 75 (1999).  One of the topics discussed was the doctrine of patent exhaustion – also known as the first sale doctrine. The doctrine was central to Bowman v. Monsanto Co., 133 S.Ct. 1761 (2013) and is also central to the case now pending before the Supreme Court, Impression Products, Inc. v. Lexmark International, Inc., Supreme Court Docket No. 15-1189 (2017).

The following is an excerpt:

Question: I’ve heard that you disagree with the reasoning of the so-called “first sale doctrine.” What’s wrong with the idea that the first authorized sale of a patented product “exhausts” the patentee’s right to control the subsequent disposition of that particular item?

Judge Rich: My position is simple: No patent right is involved and nothing is exhausted. Talking about exhaustion of the patent right is nonsense and it’s about time to stop talking nonsense. To explain, I have to discuss two things: (1) what the patent right is; and (2) what is the meaning of “exhaustion.” It is no longer debatable what the patent right is.

Continue reading Exhaustion under Judge Rich at Patently-O.

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Reading Prof. John Witherspoon’s recent remarks about Judge Giles S. Rich led me to a 1999 interview of Judge Rich by Prof. Janice Mueller titled An Interview with Judge Giles S. Rich, 9 FED. CIR. B.J. 75 (1999).  One of the topics discussed was the doctrine of patent exhaustion – also known as the first sale doctrine. The doctrine was central to Bowman v. Monsanto Co., 133 S.Ct. 1761 (2013) and is also central to the case now pending before the Supreme Court, Impression Products, Inc. v. Lexmark International, Inc., Supreme Court Docket No. 15-1189 (2017).

The following is an excerpt:

Question: I’ve heard that you disagree with the reasoning of the so-called “first sale doctrine.” What’s wrong with the idea that the first authorized sale of a patented product “exhausts” the patentee’s right to control the subsequent disposition of that particular item?

Judge Rich: My position is simple: No patent right is involved and nothing is exhausted. Talking about exhaustion of the patent right is nonsense and it’s about time to stop talking nonsense. To explain, I have to discuss two things: (1) what the patent right is; and (2) what is the meaning of “exhaustion.” It is no longer debatable what the patent right is. As I just explained, the Supreme Court told the country in 1852 in Bloomer v. McQuewan that it consists altogether in the right to exclude others – and that is all it is. It is not an ambiguous “exclusive right”; it is a simple right to exclude others. Period.

Now, the premise is that the patentee made and sold the patented invention. That was the so-called “first sale.” What did his right to exclude others have to do with those acts? Absolutely nothing! In manufacturing, was he excluding anyone? No. In selling, was he excluding anyone? No! Then he wasn’t exercising his patent right, was he? The trouble stems from the old ambiguous statutory definition of the patent right as the “exclusive right to make, use and sell.”

Turning to the meaning of “exhaustion,” it means the state of being drained or used up completely. It assumes that there is something to be used up. Well, since the patent right is not involved, how could it be used up? It couldn’t have been used, even a teeny bit, and it certainly was not exhausted.

But that’s not all there is to the analysis. What is this so-called “first sale” of an article on which the seller happens to have a patent? It is a simple transfer of ownership – a chattel or personal property – from one person to another. The rights of the buyer are governed by the law of property or the law of sales or both. And the law of patents has nothing whatever to do with those rights. Any restraints on the new owner have to be made under the law of contracts, and any contractual restrictions are subject to the antitrust laws. So there is neither use nor exhaustion of patent rights.

Conclusion: The term “exhaustion doctrine” is meaningless nonsense. The legal result is okay but the reasoning is all wrong. The simple fact is that no patent right is involved in the sale of merchandise by the patentee, nothing is exhausted, and the adjective “first” in “first sale” is also without significance. Let’s clean up the thinking about this law.

I do not always agree with Judge Rich’s positions – the fact that he wrote the statute did not give him unlimited authority to interpret the statute.  However, his logic is fairly sound here. The question in my mind is whether the laws of property and sales would be able to pick-up the slack — especially under our federalist system where state laws (i.e., those that govern personal property and sales) are subservient to national laws (e.g., the patent laws).  Seemingly, no state law that limits patent rights could be enforceable.  The saving grace in this chain of thought comes from 35 U.S.C. 261 which states “Subject to the provisions of this title, patents shall have the attributes of personal property.”

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Bayh-Dole Act: Failing to Disclose Government Funding https://patentlyo.com/patent/2017/01/disclose-government-funding.html https://patentlyo.com/patent/2017/01/disclose-government-funding.html#comments Wed, 18 Jan 2017 17:04:47 +0000 http://patentlyo.com/?p=15488 Interesting filing from the folks at KEI. That alleges IONIS Pharma (formerly ISIS) and Cold Springs Harbor Labs failed to disclose Federal funding supported development of the inventions underlying their patents covering nusinersen and its for the treatment of spinal muscular atrophy (SMA).  See U.S. Patent Nos. 8,361,977 and 8,980,853.

The Bayh-Dole Act allows private entities to patent inventions developed through federal funding. However, the law requires that the federal funding be disclosed in order to allow the Government to understand and exercise its corresponding rights.

An entity that fails to disclose the funding is then subject to the penalty of title being awarded to the U.S. government – although the Government must demand title.  “The Federal Government may receive title to any subject invention not disclosed to it within such time.” 35 U.S.C. § 202(c)(1).

The KEI filing is in the form of a letter to Inspector General of HHS (parent of NIH) asking for an investigation and action.

Read the Filing: [18jan2017-oig-investigation-request-nusinersen-patents]

If the new Trump Administration is serious about high drug prices, this may be a place to start.  Nusinersen is priced at $750,000 for the first year of treatment and $375,000 for every year thereafter.

Continue reading Bayh-Dole Act: Failing to Disclose Government Funding at Patently-O.

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Interesting filing from the folks at KEI. That alleges IONIS Pharma (formerly ISIS) and Cold Springs Harbor Labs failed to disclose Federal funding supported development of the inventions underlying their patents covering nusinersen and its for the treatment of spinal muscular atrophy (SMA).  See U.S. Patent Nos. 8,361,977 and 8,980,853.

The Bayh-Dole Act allows private entities to patent inventions developed through federal funding. However, the law requires that the federal funding be disclosed in order to allow the Government to understand and exercise its corresponding rights.

An entity that fails to disclose the funding is then subject to the penalty of title being awarded to the U.S. government – although the Government must demand title.  “The Federal Government may receive title to any subject invention not disclosed to it within such time.” 35 U.S.C. § 202(c)(1).

The KEI filing is in the form of a letter to Inspector General of HHS (parent of NIH) asking for an investigation and action.

Read the Filing: [18jan2017-oig-investigation-request-nusinersen-patents]

If the new Trump Administration is serious about high drug prices, this may be a place to start.  Nusinersen is priced at $750,000 for the first year of treatment and $375,000 for every year thereafter.

 

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